In a statement, sent via In The Know - Surrey and Sussex, the group said the incidents have seen a lone fraudster approach victims, whom they believe to be unfamiliar with the local area, with excuses such as enquiring about directions or offering a recommendation for a good hotel.
It added: “After this interaction, several other fraudsters will intervene purporting to be police officers in plain clothes and will sometimes present false identification as proof. The fake officers will then give a reason to examine the victims’ wallet, purse or personal items. They may also examine the first fraudster’s items or try to tell victims that the first fraudster is suspicious in order to gain victim trust and appear more realistic in their guise.
“After all the fake police ‘checks’ are finished, victims have then reported being handed back their personal items only to later realise that a quantity of money or valuables were missing.”
Action Fraud has issued the following advice to help people protect themselves:
If an individual claims to be a police officer ask for their name and rank, force, and examine any identification presented; this is always good practice but especially important if they are not wearing a uniform.
The police will never ask for your passwords or PIN details. Do not give this information to anyone.
The police will never request that you withdraw/transfer any money to them or to a ‘safe’ account.
Anyone affected by this, or any other fraud, is asked to report it to Action Fraud by visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk